FIFTY-FOUR per cent of drowning fatalities in 2012 occurred in rivers around Fiji. This was an increase of 18 per cent compared to the five-year comparison from 2007 to 2011.
Fiji Police Force spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said 2012 recorded the highest number of drowning cases in the last 13 years.
While she was not in a position to provide statistics for those years, she confirmed that there were 75 deaths by drowning last year. Ms Naisoro said an average of six people lost their lives every month last year from drowning.
She said this was the reason police continued to stress that people should not take their environment or situations for granted.
"While it may seem safe to swim in rivers, having the necessary safety skills and supervision is vital," she said. "Lack of knowledge, disregard or misunderstanding of the hazard is a major factor in drowning cases.
"This is causing the need to educate and raise awareness in water safe practices."
Ms Naisoro confirmed that the post-mortem result of a 12-year-old student who died after he was swept away by strong currents at the Kamakau River on Rabi Island had been established as death by drowning.
The drowning toll stands at two compared to three for the same period last year.